Associations between chronic cigarette smoking and taste function: Results from the 2013–2014 national health and nutrition examination survey

Lauren Berube, Valerie B. Duffy, John E. Hayes, Howard J. Hoffman, Shristi Rawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We identified associations between cigarette-smoking and taste function in the U.S. NHANES 2013–2014. Adults ≥ 40 years (n = 2849, nearly half former or current smokers) rated whole-mouth and tongue-tip bitter (1 mM quinine) and salt (1 M NaCl, 0.32 M NaCl) intensities and reported smoking history (pack years, PY), dependence (time to first cigarette, TTFC) and menthol/non-menthol use. Perceived intensity on the tongue-tip averaged just below moderate for quinine and moderate to strong for 1 M NaCl. Current chronic smokers (≥ 20 PY) reported lower bitter and salty intensities on the tongue-tip (β: -2.0, 95% CI: -3.7 to -0.4 and β: -3.6, 95% CI: -6.9 to -0.3, respectively) than never smokers. Similarly, compared to never smokers, dependent current smokers (TTFC ≤ 30 min) and dependent chronic smokers (≥ 20 PY, TTFC ≤ 30 min) rated less bitter (β: -2.0, 95% CI: -4.0 to 0.1 and β: -2.9, 95% CI: -4.5 to -1.3, respectively) and salty (β: -5.3, 95% CI: -9.3 to -1.4 and β: -4.7, 95% CI: -8.6 to -0.7, respectively) intensities on the tongue-tip. Depressed tongue-tip intensity in dependent smokers (with/without chronicity) versus never smokers was significant in younger (40–65 years), but not older (> 65 years) adults. Former smokers, non-chronic/less dependent smokers, and menthol smokers were more likely to report elevated whole-mouth quinine and 1 M NaCl intensities. Tongue-tip and whole-mouth taste intensity concordance varied between smokers and never smokers—current dependent smokers were more likely to rate tongue-tip quinine and NaCl lower than their respective whole-mouth tastants (OR: 1.8, 95% CI: 1.0 to 3.1 and OR: 1.8, 95% CI: 1.1 to 2.8, respectively). In summary, these U.S. nationally-representative data show that current smoking with chronicity and/or dependence associates with lower tongue-tip intensity for bitter and salty stimuli. Smokers with greater exposure to nicotine and/or dependence showed greater risk of taste alterations, with implications for diet- and smoking-related health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113554
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Volume240
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 15 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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